If you have been appointed the executor of a loved one’s estate, you may have already considered hiring an attorney to help. While Louisiana law does not require that estate representatives have legal counsel, succession can be a time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining ordeal. An experienced succession and probate litigation attorney could help you settle a friend or relative’s affairs with minimal hassle, ensuring their heirs get the closure they need and the inheritance they deserve.
Acting as an Executor in Louisiana
An executor represents a deceased person’s estate and handles remaining material interests. After a Louisiana resident passes away, their executor is tasked with protecting the estate until any outstanding debts and taxes have been paid. Once any prospective creditors have been dealt with, the executor may begin disbursing gifts and inheritances to any beneficiary named in the decedent’s last will and testament.
Who Can Be an Executor
Louisiana’s Probate Code presumes that most people have the capacity to act as an estate executor. An executor must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be of sound mind, not having been adjudicated as mentally deficient by a court
- Not have a felony criminal record
In some, limited circumstances, the court could reject a designated executor if there is reason to believe the executor is not of good moral character. However, with few exceptions, the court will permit most competent adults to serve as an estate representative.
The Challenges of Acting as an Estate Executor
While Louisiana has some restrictions on who can act as an executor, the courts do not require that personal representatives have an attorney to assist them in settling an estate. However, settling an estate can be time-consuming, costly, and emotionally challenging. Before an executor may begin paying creditors or disbursing inheritances, they must take full account of the decedent’s possessions—including possessions that may be difficult to access such as safe deposit boxes and overseas assets.
If anyone tries to contest the deceased person’s will or file any other challenge against the estate, the executor has an outstanding legal obligation to defend the estate and its interests in court. So, it’s beneficial to have an attorney working to protect the estate.
How Probate Attorneys Simplify Succession
- Filing probate paperwork on your behalf. Probate in Louisiana is a time-sensitive process. If you miss a filing deadline, you could be held liable for any damages incurred by creditors or heirs. An experienced probate attorney can ensure that you, and the estate, stay compliant with state law.
- Inventorying and appraising the estate’s assets. Executors are required to gather all of the decedent’s assets that could be subjected to the probate court’s jurisdiction. Depending on the nature and quantity of the assets, you may have to get certain items professionally appraised. The experienced probate lawyers at Scott Vicknair Law could spare you the burden of sifting through a loved one’s belongings and can complete the task on your behalf.
- Defending the estate against frivolous creditor claims. Before an executor may disburse inheritances, they must notify potential creditors that the estate has entered probate. This permits creditors to file claims against the estate. However, creditor claims are not always made in good faith. A Louisiana succession lawyer could help you determine the truth behind creditor claims, denying wrongdoers the chance to profit off a friend or relative’s death.
- Protecting the estate from litigation. Estate executors advocate the estate’s interests. If an heir, creditor, or third party tries to contest the terms of a last will and testament, the executor must use the estate’s assets to defend the estate against the challenge. While executors are not expected to pay out of pocket for litigation, a long, drawn-out lawsuit could deplete the estate’s assets, leaving little left over for legitimate heirs.
- Paying creditor claims and disbursing inheritances. Our attorneys could resolve any creditor or heir disputes out of court, protecting the estate’s integrity and the decedent’s reputation.
Do You Need Help Executing a Louisiana Estate?
Estate executors have many responsibilities—obligations that can be very complicated and can take time away from friends, family, and work. However, you do not have to navigate the complexities of a Louisiana succession alone. The attorneys at Scott Vicknair Law could help ease your burden. Please call us today at 504-264-1057 to schedule your initial consultation.